Monday, May 27, 2013

Soldier On: G.I. Joe- The Movie

Yo Nostalgia!  As a kid growing up in the '80s, I watched all of the usual fare- He-Man, G.I. Joe and Thundercats.  That was, of course, in addition to crazier fare like Centurions, Defenders of the Earth and Thundarr the Barbarian.  To be honest with you, however, G.I. Joe: The Movie is a bit hazy for me.  Granted- I was three years old when the film was released on VHS, so I could have seen it and just not managed to maintain all of my memories.  Watching it later as a teenager is more memorable and I recall the film being good, but kind of weird.  Watching it recently as an adult (if you insist that I am one), it is really weird, but still good in a lot of ways.  If you don't know what G.I. Joe is, here's the basic summary: G.I. Joe fights Cobra.  What you do need to know is that Cobra dealt with their hundreds and hundreds of losses by creating a new leader- Serpentor.  He was created at the beginning of the second Season from the DNA mix of several famous Leaders and Generals (Atilla the Hun, Napoleon, etc) Sergeant Slaughter.  From the beginning of his introduction in the show, the Wrestler/Character has been portrayed as some sort of Superman, in contrast to everyone else...who are all elite fighting machines of the military.  You'll see more of that later too.  The plot of this film gets really, really crazy early on and just never looks back.  Unlike Transformers: The Movie (which was in production at the same time, but came out first), this film does not set up the next Season of the show, as there isn't one.  To find out if you should be sad or not about this film being bumped from a Theatrical release, read on...
The film's famous opening is just as awesome and goofy as ever.  Cobra tries to blow up the Statue of Liberty with a single bomb, but gets stopped while some awesome music plays.

It's also important to note how major characters like Snake Eyes look cool here...but do nothing later.  Sigh.
Cobra Commander and Serpentor are in a power struggle over Cobra.  If this feels familiar, then you've watched Transformers.

A mysterious woman with snake weapons shows up and tells them that they have to do a big heist to impress her master.
The Deus Ex Machina of the, Movie is the Broadcast Energy Transmitter, a device which apparently sends electricity across the air to provide energy for homes.

No, they don't explain how this works or how this wouldn't just give everyone Cancer.
Before I get to the extra silly part of the plot, let's take a quick aside for the 'Introduce New Characters/Toys' to buy.  I can't wait to watch you on the show...or never again.  At least Jynx would show up in G.I. Joe Retaliation, some 27 years later.
Okay, so here goes: they go to Cobra-La.  Just breath that in for a minute.

Basically, Cobra-La is a land ruled by Snake People who just to rule the World.  They used Sci-Fi stuff to teach Mindbender how to make Serpentor (no, really), since Cobra Commander had failed them.  Speaking of which...
Cobra Commander is a Snake Person.  Just...just accept this.

To be fair, they never showed his face, avoiding a Retcon...but this still feels silly.  Nobody EVER saw his face and went 'HOLY SHIT- WHAT ARE YOU?!?!?!?'
The film finally introduces Slaughter, who's musculature puts The Ultimate Warrior to shame.  I'd show a picture of Slaughter's paunchy physique and mostly-bald head, but that would just seem petty.

Anyhow, he is training EVEN MORE new recruits for the mission...who will disappear after this.  One of them didn't even get an Action Figure until 2010.
Cobra-La has a silly plan involving shooting 'energy' (just the vague kind) into space to activate pods that will unleash spores that will devolve us into Apes.  No, really.

Duke takes a snake/spear for this brother-in-law (read: definitely not Rodimus Prime) and seems to die.  Due to the feedback on Optimus Prime's death, he's just in a coma.  Yeah, a coma.
The Joes save the day, defeating the monsters/army of Cobra-La, while all of the villains escape.  I can't wait to see them get their revenge...never.  The End (for real).
This is a weird way to end things.  I'm sure that the intent was to actually keep things going here (see Lord Zed on Power Rangers), but that didn't happen.  Rather than being a stepping stone for a Season that is only remembered by the die-hard fans (kind of like Seasons 7-10 of TMNT), it just kind of ends the whole thing.  I certainly don't hate it, but it's still odd.  While the introduction of Cobra-La, mutants, Cobra Commander's past and giant monsters comes the #%^@ out of nowhere, it does make the whole thing seem big.  The biggest problem to me is the same one with the Transformers cartoon film- ignoring the past to push the future.  Yes, both shows were mostly giant commercials, but kids like myself got into them.  This film has nowhere near the body count of that famously-traumatic film, but, instead, makes them just feel unimportant.  Snake Eyes, for one, does nothing of note here.  He doesn't need a scene to make him seem bad-ass, but why not give him one anyways?  He's still your most iconic character, as the awkward re-shuffling of Cast Members in the live-action films has taught us.  Scarlet can die/leave off-camera, but Snake Eyes ain't going anywhere!  As a side-note, Roadblock rhymes Dolemite-style in this film- where was that Rock?  The film is still a Cult Classic to me, as it just goes all-out on the crazy.  The Joes fight giant Freudian worms (see below) after all.  If you loved the show as a kid, you really need to re-watch this bizarre wrap-up to this big part of your childhood.  Yo Joe!
Next up, a film that not many people saw originally, but now they want to pretend like they did.  Kiss Kiss your ignorance of this film good-bye.  Stay tuned...

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